The leadership of Bangsamoro People’s Congress (BPC), the political arm of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), is optimistic that lasting peace in Mindanao is soon achieved after President Rodrigo Duterte certified as urgent the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
BPC chairman Muslimin Sema believed that President Duterte is sincere in his commitments and the only way to show its sincerity is to accomplish what the previous administration have left behind.
“President Duterte’s commitment to the leadership of the MNLF and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front [MILF] is a gesture of sincerity. Both MILF and the MNLF are delighted over Duterte’s certifying the BBL as an urgent law and expected before the yearends,” Sema said.
The BBL draft, according to Sema, defines the basic structure of the proposed Bangsamoro autonomous state in Mindanao and a key feature in the federal form of government being pushed by Duterte and his allies.
The Bangsamoro Transition Commission submitted the draft to the President before the Congress leaders last July 17.
The new BBL draft seeks to replace the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with a new self-governing region of bigger territory and additional powers. It was crafted on March 27, 2014 after the peace pact signed between the administration of former President Benigno Aquino 3rd and the MILF.
Sema was among the MNLF leaders who organized the infamous “Council of 15” in April 2000 that limited the powers of MNLF founding chairman Nur over loss of confidence in his leadership.
The MNLF was divided into three – the Sema larger group, the Misuari faction and the Islamic Command Council (ICC). The MNLF-Sema group has currently more than 60 “revolutionary states” all over Mindanao.
The division of MNLF leadership seriously affected the group of Sema who reached out to the MILF three years ago to ensure cooperation in putting a negotiated closure to the Bangsamoro agreement issue.
Sema, former Cotabato City mayor and an ethnic Maguindanaon, yielded his post to Yusop Jikiri, a Tausug comrade after nine years as MNLF chairman since 2008.
The MNLF signed a final peace accord with the government on September 2, 1996, brokered by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.